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Exclusive: Nickelodeon Announces 2014 Animated Shorts Program

Nickelodeon has announced a call for submissions for its 2014 global Animated Shorts Program, which is designed to identify and develop new and up-and-coming animation talent. It is the third year that Nick has run the program domestically, and the second year for international artists.

The animated short at top, Bug Salad created by Carl Faruolo (Gravity Falls, Fish Hooks), is from the 2013 class of shorts and debuts today exclusively on Cartoon Brew.

“We’re on an ongoing mission to create the funniest animated content for this next generation of kids, and find the freshest creative voices from around the world,” says Russell Hicks, Nick’s president of content development and production. “The shorts program has already fueled our pipeline with new content and we’re very excited to see what comes through our door this year.”

Nick will choose a minimum of 10 pitches to develop into shorts that will appear on air, on Nick.com, and the Nick app. The shorts also have the potential to be developed into full series, such as the upcoming Breadwinners which was chosen from the inaugural Animated Shorts Program in 2012. Per the call for submissions:

Ideas will be accepted from a broad pool of creative talent from all quarters including artists, designers, writers, directors and comedians. Creators will be provided with the necessary artistic and production support teams to help them complete their fully animated short. Shorts must be original, humor-based and character-driven. All animation styles are encouraged from 2D, digital 2D, stop motion, CG or mixed media. The deadline for submissions is March 14, 2014.

Full details and guidelines are available on the Nick website.

Nick also announced the full list of 17 pitches from the 2013 edition that were chosen for pilot development. The list includes the following ten projects from the U.S.:

The Loud House created by Chris Savino
Bear Wrestler created by Deanna Rooney
By Request Pizza created by Arica Tuesday and Mick Ignis
Hole created by Sam Spina
Matt and Gus created by Matt Braunger
Charlie and Mr. Two created by Travis Braun
Bug Salad created by Carl Faruolo
Earmouse and Bottle created by Brian Morante
Woodstump created by Zach Smith
Broats created by Jack Cusumano

And seven international projects:
Badly Drawn Animals by Hamish Steele (UK)
Louis and Georges by Renaud Martin & Raphaël Chabassol (France)
Monster Pack by Pedro Eboli & Graham Peterson (Brazil)
Moosebox by Mike Scott (South Africa)
Scoop by The Brothers McLeod (UK)
Tech Oddity by Marco Ibarra and Stefie Zöhrer (Mexico)
Tonk’s Island by Mel Roach (Australia)

(The two shorts pictured in this post are Earmouse and Bottle and By Request Pizza.)

  • Aminder

    Love it! …especially the mailman’s voice!

  • Lisa

    I hope ‘Bug Salad’ becomes a full series! I love the characters! :)

  • Michael

    Bug saled would do good!

  • Becca

    Oh my gosh, haha, that was so funny! I’m going to show it to everyone I know!

  • Natalie

    So funny and original. A breath of fresh air!

  • Sarah

    This is cool, but will the winning creators be compensated for their work? I can’t find information on that.

  • PappyPoo

    I love it…

  • ShellieK

    Great Job Carl. Love the voices !

  • Megan

    Great short! hoping to see the rest soon :) when are they coming out?

  • C-Dawg

    I love good cartoons and killing bugs so this was win win for me!

  • Mike Scott

    Niiice. Please to have my hat in the ring there :) Looking forward to seeing the other shorts.

    • Mike Scott

      *PleaseD. Cry.

  • I still don’t feel completely on board with Nick demanding that protagonists either be children or have a child-like mindset. But then again, it is a network designed for kids, isn’t it?

    Nick must’ve struck creative gold this year because that Bug Salad short was really funny. If the network misses out on giving it a full series, then they really didn’t learn from their Adventure Time fallout. But I digress. Hopefully the rest of the shorts will up to par with this one.

    • Koda Motoi

      Even if it is a network designed for kids, do we REALLY need almost every cartoon to feature characters who wouldn’t know their head from a hole in the ground?

      And I’m wondering if we’re watching the same animated short here, because Bug Salad doesn’t look like creative gold at all, but the same ‘so random and silly’ stuff that is constantly done. Maybe people are putting it in high regard solely because of the person creating it? I’m really thinking that is the reason.

      The main character is too stupid for his own good, and that mail man is simply the worst case of a character who was made ‘random and silly’ with nothing else to go for him.

      I really can not see how this is funny and ‘original’ in any way. Original would be if the characters weren’t full of mind-numbing idiocy that you could find in a lot of other cartoons airing.

      • It’s important to remember that every protagonist in Nicktoon history does not intrinsically fall into that category. Rocko, Season 1-3 Spongebob (to an extent) and Aang/Korra come to mind.

        And if you really don’t agree with my opinion on Bug Salad…it’s not that big of deal at all. I just thought it was funny. I don’t really care who made it and I don’t care that it had Tom Kenny, although that certainly helped. It feels more like something you’d watch on Cartoon Network and it’s a lot more enjoyable than most of Nick’s current output. But that’s just me.

    • Ryoku75

      I don’t like this “kid mindset” myself, since to most people apparently that means screaming and stupidity, how many 30-50 year old executives actually interact or observe children?

      I haven’t seen “Bug Salad” yet so I’d rather not comment on it.

      • Funkybat

        I feel like pitching something that features protagonists who are largely based on how actual 21st century 6-12 year olds behave and react to things. If you went by the media, you’d think they were all a bunch of ADD spazzes, but in fact a lot of kids are observant, savvy and thoughtful. A lot of them seem to realize that they “know a lot of stuff” thanks to living in an information-at-your-fingertips world, but also realize they are not automatically experts at everything and are fine admitting they don’t know this or that if asked. That’s on of the reasons I like Gravity Falls so much, the kids are smart and savvy, but still silly and naive about some things. But loudmouthed, spastic and arrogant characters are often more entertaining, that is, until they become cliche.

  • vIGGl

    The setting reminds me of “The Buzz on Maggie”.
    I like that the characters have real names like Scott and Winston instead o weird ones like B’Doooh and [email protected]@y.

  • Father of 2

    Yay Carl!! I love it!!

  • Matt Sullivan

    I heard from several people who submitted pitches that Nickelodeon can’t scam their way past animation artist’s lawyers, so they’re looking for ideas they can screw the creator out of…that is, pay them a mere pittance for a potentially billion-dollar idea. I wouldn’t bite.

    • IcyTea

      I don’t see why people don’t pitch ideas to Cartoon Network or Disney Channel. Nickelodeon is just trying to milk ideas to make profit off of it and limit the creator’s ability to create the cartoon he/she wants to create.

  • Strong Enough

    waaaaaa? what cartoon network has Adult swim. plus thats the target audience. thats the way its always been.

  • IJK

    Except doesn’t Nick get higher ratings than either of those channels?

    • WayBackAttack

      No, not anymore. Not since 2009. Where have you been?

  • Roberto Severino

    SpongeBob has sadly been the Achilles heel for this network and I’m not trying to attack the show itself. They just can’t find anything that could possibly replace it and a lot of stuff they’ve turned down that could have made for great shows like The Modifyers or Constant Payne. They basically have to keep renewing the show and FOP until they find another major hit.

    The channel needs way more variety and needs to take much more chances like they did back in the early 90s.

  • Fey

    Disney Channel has a TON of tween comedies though. As does Nick. In fact, both channels haven’t changed much since the 90’s. Maybe Disney has gotten a few more sitcoms than necessary.

    What show are they airing that appeals to both kids and adults? Unless you meant ALL Disney channels (Disney XD, Disney Junior) and not “The Disney Channel”. The other channels have some solid Marvel cartoons and Junior often airs Disney/Pixar movies, which is nice.

    But from The Channel itself, the only really solid cartoons I can think of are Gravity Falls and Wander Over Yonder. Phineas and Ferb is more popular among kids than adults, I think. I could be wrong about that.

  • dont h8, appreciate

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  • True_Chris

    From the last line of the “contact”….

    “I understand that I will not be entitled to any compensation because of VMN’s use of such other similar or identical material.”

    So we do all the work and get nothing, I don’t play that. I don’t need you.

    • That line is standard in every pitch contract at every studio, and it doesn’t mean they won’t compensate creators. They put it in there because it covers their ass if you pitch a show about a bear that skateboards, and coincidentally they are already developing a show about the same thing.

  • True_Chris

    hahaha … Sherlock strikes again. And they thought you wouldn’t notice.

  • True_Chris

    Read the last line of the contract…

  • Roberto Severino

    I don’t really have as much of a problem with those kinds of limbs being used on Wander characters. The show still looks amazing visually I was talking about a very specific way that many cartoons are being drawn now. The pseudo Bob’s Burgers / Regular Show style is what I’d call it with probably a little bit of Adventure Time in there somewhat.

  • Akow CP

    Please explain to me how “Fairly Odd Parents” is not just for kids? How does that show appeal to adults? If you look at the ratings, Spongebob pulls in a high amount of adult viewers, and at times, more than broadcast tv. It seems to me you’re only listing the toons YOU like.

    Also, I don’t want to sound rude, but Wander Over Yonder, and Phineas have both been declining in the ratings. Gravity Falls is the only cartoon on Disney that has good, consistent ratings, not to mention the quality is great too.

    • IcyTea

      The main reason why Spongebob has high ratings is the fact kids every Saturday morning watch it and their parents would watch it as well.

      • WayBackAttack

        Except SpongeBob is no longer popular.

        • IcyTea

          Even though it’s popularity is dead, kids will watch it every Saturday. I’m glad the merch. for it is dead. CN is dominating the toy lines with 3 shows (2-3 more shows will get toy lines).

    • WayBackAttack

      What are you talking about? Spongebob Squarepant’s ratings have been on the decline since 2010. Phineas & Ferb’s may be going downhill, but they’re still higher than lame old Spongebob. Neither kids or adults watch it anymore. And Wonder just started, and it has great ratings.

  • fbt

    Oh my gosh yes !! after reading the comments on top I felt kinda shocked when I read the ones below. Very suspicious indeed…

  • Monky

    All the Dreamworks shows have a plot. Mighty B’s episodes had a plot. Spongebob and Fairly Oddparents have more stuff going on than just “Hyper characters screaming”. Korra has a plot.

    What Nick shows are you referring to? Adventure Time is probably the only thing I can think of from the top of my head that is actual “randomness”.

  • Ryoku75

    You can thank Adventure Time for reviving noodle arms, noodle limbs were simple used back in the days of early animation to cut time and money, these days its lack of talent being passed off as a “style”.

    To be fair, it at least fits ATs basic surrealistic characters, but due to its success I expect amateurs to copy it thinking they can skip anatomy class.

    • Roberto Severino

      Thank you! That’s exactly what I was getting at with my comment. People copying the wrong things about Adventure Time and using the noodle arm stuff as a shortcut to actually learn how to draw. The designs for AT work in context with what the show is going for so I can let that slide and the animation itself from what I’ve seen can actually be pretty rubbery and fluid. There’s a lot that people really like about the show like the characters, continuity, and stories.

      Yes, you’re right. Those kinds of designs were common in early animation and also because they were still figuring out a lot of stuff and how to make characters move properly so they needed something simple to control the volumes on.

      • ZibZabZo

        Rubber hose it what we used to call it back in the day.

  • Ryoku75

    Then theres also humor like what you’d find in Airplane and Police Squad, normal characters casually going about absurd situations and cleverly poking fun at then current tropes/cliches.

    Beyond Rocko and maybe a few older cartoons, I’ve seen little to any cartoons try this humor style.

    • Funkybat

      Nobody seems to attempt the kind of wacky-with-a-straight-face comedy that worked so well in those old ZAZ movies, with the exception of semi-Dadaist comedians like Tim & Eric or Serafinowicz & Popper. I would LOVE to see an animated show pull that off, though I am not sure if it would ever fly with Nick or daytime CN.

  • Ryoku75

    I think found a bit of a pattern with the pitch list titles:

    Set A: Bob and Joe

    Set B: Word, or for maximum creativity TWO words combined! So Crowbar

    Set C The title admirable for its honesty, Badly Drawn Animals.

  • Joel

    As all the Nick hate continues, I have no idea wither to laugh or shake my head at the collective stupidity.

  • Funkybat

    If someone is really worried about this kind of thing, they should document their ideas online (maybe not EVERY character or a show bible) and document in social media that they are taking part in a pitch contest with thus-and-such studio, as it happens.
    Then, if two years later something exceedingly close to their idea shows up from that studio, they can show that not only did they have that idea X number of years back, they can prove they pitched it, both in real court and more importantly in the court of online public opinion. It would be a lot of bad PR for there to be a sudden social media blitz about “XYZ Studios steals show from up-and-coming artist!”

    Given that anyone with any sense in the entertainment business today KNOWS all this is a possibility, it would be incredibly unlikely that they would attempt such a theft. There’s too much to lose from the backlash.

  • Darrell Wilson

    I think if it ever came down to throwing a pitch (even though I have no experience in doing so) I would send a copy to the Library of Congress first. Easy 40 or so bucks and super easy lawsuit if it ever came down to a network stealing your ideas…then again, I’d prefer an audience with the internet media and stay indie concerning 2D animation. Today’s stuff looks to tweenish. Frame-by-Frame is there at times, but it’s so limited, and for good, obvious reasons.

  • Nysline

    The Bug Salad cartoon looks cute, I hope it becomes a cartoon!

  • sara

    Does anyone know, for the international submission, are all languages accepted or must the submission be in English? i was inable to find an FAQ

  • DayDreamDawn

    Thank you so much for this. It seems these days, studios like Nickelodeon have forgotten that animation is an ART FORM. Not just some tool for cheap laughs and mindless entertainment.